Google+ Ripples now appears in real-time, but Andrew Devine, Covario senior search engine optimization (SEO) strategist, believes the tool falls short when it comes to analyzing social data. The search marketing agency will release a white paper Wednesday authored by Devine highlighting the limitations. Ripples, an interactive graph, shows who publicly shared a post or URL, comments made, and timeline of the shares, as well as statistics on the URL.
Viewing the ripples of a social post in Google+ requires at least one person share the post. The option becomes available in the dropdown menu next to a post under Edit, Disable, Delete, and Lock.
While Ripples provides data about the social reach of a post, it doesn't provide an understanding of the performance, and limits the ability to drill down to referring keywords, according to Devine. He said that for an enterprise-level tool it's difficult to view the impact of a corporate page over time. He also compared Ripples with Twitter's social dashboard, a paid service that supports full analytics sorted by category and keyword, traffic and select data range. One big difference: free and paid.
Marketers need know the effectiveness of campaigns, content syndication, and the amount of traffic it pushes to a Web site. To make matters worse, Devine points to a SEMPO study released in February revealing that Google+ users engage on average three minutes per month from September 2011 through January 2012, compared with 89 minutes on tumblr and 405 minutes on Facebook.
"Although Google hasn’t released an analytics tool specific to Google+ in the vein of Facebook Insights or Twitter Analytics, it is possible to isolate the impact a Google+ profile has on a related Web site within the referrer report from any analytics platform," Devine wrote. "By isolating the plus.google.com sub-domain, a traffic number can be obtained and compared over another date period."
Covario suggests a few steps to take when analyzing Google+ data:
1) Until Google releases an on-page analytics solution for Google+ profiles, use referral reports in analytics software to monitor traffic to the site being driven from the Google+ profile.
2) Use Google+ Ripples on a post-by-post basis to identify industry influencers -- people whose profiles expose your content to larger user groups.
3) Use www.allmyplus.com to identify the various profile post metrics, including aggregate post, comment, +1; and reshare counts.
4) Compare competitor Google+ profiles at www.allmyplus.com/compare/ to determine the social impact by evaluating per-post social signals.